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Everything you wanted to know on Backhand strokes and drills.

Backhand Tennis Drills

The first of the backhand tennis drills is called the "backhand volley". This drill is called a "volley" because the ball never touches the ground when it's on your side of the net. The student should use the following steps to practice with the "backhand volley"

  • Hold the racquet with the Continental grip.
  • Start out by touching the net with your stomach.
  • Back away from the net using three good size steps (shorter people should go ahead and take short steps; taller people should be a little further back than three steps).
  • Have a friend throw or hit the ball to your backhand side.
  • As you're moving to hit the ball take one step forward.
  • After you hit the ball, your racquet should end up over the spot where you took your first step back from the net.
  • Keep your wrist straight and you're arm slightly bent when you bring them back.
  • By the time you contact the ball, your arm should be straight and the face of the racquet should be perpendicular to the ground.
  • You should be able to stop the racquet just before the ball makes contact. Since the ball still has a lot of momentum and you are standing close to the net you should be able to just let the ball bounce off your racquet face and go over the net. This is the perfect time to concentrate on making the ball contact the center of the strings.

The second of the backhand tennis drills you can use is called the "drop and hit" drill. Once again, you will need another person to help out.

  • Use the same grip that we used in the first drill, the Eastern backhand grip. Where you stand for this drill will be a little different because you should stand on the baseline with your hips and shoulders perpendicular to the net.
  • Your helper should stand out in front of you and gently toss balls towards you so that they take one bounce in front of you and then are ready to be hit by your backhand.
  • As you hit these balls, take a small step forwards into the ball and practice rotating your hips and shoulders; that's where your power will come from when you use your backhand.
  • You may not need this power right now, but when you do need power, it's nice to know how to make it.

Info on Progression:

  1. Assess the backhand

Pressure above the elbow, to feel shoulder muscle working, not the forearm; feel like a robot

  1. Backhand Drills To Simplify The Technique

 

a)      Mini-tennis (#1)…Short backswing, extend through the ball, mini tennis no swing, just turn bunt;  feel the ball against the racquet

b)      Alley rally drill (#2) - sense of direction down the line. Rallying the ball in the alley (between the singles and the doubles sidelines) helps the player keep the forward direction in mind. It also gives him feedback on every shot on how he hit the ball - well, or too much to the left, or too much to the right.

c)      Lifting the ball up (#3) – stand in front at net

d)      Developing Spin: (#4) Under and Over

e)      Let go, and then control the line (#5)….throwing motion….fluid…no control, no technique,…..only the grip.. swing around the circle to accelerate the racquet…ball can go anywhere…just swing around

 

Without the ball,  then drop…then toss

 

As I explain in the video, there is always a danger of being too deliberate and controlled with a new technique so that you don't develop a fluid and effortless movement.

 

Line…guide the ball to the target, then let go ; around, line, then let go.

 

f)        The non-dominant arm back #6

A good way to correct too much body rotation when playing a one-handed backhand in tennis is to extend the non-dominant arm backward during the stroke..put the shoulder blades together

 

g)      One & two (#7) This is another drill that helps one-handed backhand players to be more accurate in directing the ball.

 

To compensate over rotate

 

The "one" part focuses on keeping the racquet in line with the target and extending along this imaginary line, and "two" is letting the racquet go into the follow-through.

The "one" part means that racquet stays on the same side of the body - for right-handers on the left side - and "two" means that the racquet can cross the body and end up on the right side.  Two when the ball bounces on other side.

It can feel too forced if you control it very consciously, so I suggest you focus on the "one" more in your mind. Just imagine the straight line and then continue fluidly into the follow-through.

 

h. Using the legs - "Grounding" (#8)

 

Grounding means that you focus on feeling the ground and pushing off the ground and into the shot. This doesn't necessarily mean that you are in the closed stance and transfer your weight forward.

It merely means that you focus on initiating the stroke from the ground first and transfer this energy through your body into the racquet head.

The key is to really feel the ground before the shot, feel very stable and balanced, and push off and transfer this push into your arms and eventually into the racquet.

 

 i. Copy the forehand (#9)  back & forth forehand…backhand. Coach feeds middle on other side of net

 

I've often seen players who hit the ball on the forehand side in one way (more speed and more spin) and on the backhand side in another way (less speed and less spin).

This can happen subconsciously for various reasons. The key is to become aware of how you hit the ball on the forehand, and try to copy that with your one-handed backhand.

 

This is not a technical comparison but a tactical one. You need to compare the speed, spin, height, and depth of the shots. The direction is not so important in this drill - it's more about hitting the ball in the same way.

You need to forget the "correct technique" and just remember how you hit the ball on your forehand side, and then try to copy the ball's flight (speed, height, depth) and spin on your backhand side.

This is another drill that helps you "break" the new technique that you've been working on and allows you to develop feel and effortless motion.

 

Summary

The more technical drills like "One" and "Two" need to be combined with "Let go" and "Copy the forehand" drills so that you don't just guide and push the ball with "correct technique" but you also make an effective shot.

That's what tennis is about. You don't win points by performing technique correctly. You win points by hitting effective shots.

The technical corrections of the one-handed backhand in this and the previous article guide you towards more consistent and accurate strokes, but you also need the element of natural and effortless movement which often gets lost in technical training.

Therefore always combine technical training with biomechanically comfortable movements in order to find the optimal movement which gives you accuracy and consistency and is at the same time effortless and fluid.

 

 **Guide…then **fluid  around the body circle arch- accelerate !!

 

Tennis Backhand Drills

Tennis Backhand Drill #1: Backhand Inside-Out

A great way to practice your backhand is to hit inside-out backhands. Now you might think you don’t know any great player that hits inside-out backhands in a match (except for the Williams sisters and maybe a few other female pros); so why practice this shot ?

The answer is that every groundstroke should follow an inside-out swing-pattern! (See my upcoming technique video series for more detailed explanations!) So hitting inside-out backhands will actually help you improve all of your backhands!

A good way to practice this is to hit a bunch of backhands inside-out from the forehand corner. Either have someone feed you balls or simply rally against your practice partner hitting forehand cross-court!

Tennis Backhand Drill #2: Hit From Inside The Service Line

In this drill you stand on the service line or even closer to the net and someone feeds you backhands or keeps hitting the ball back to your backhand. You try to hit the ball deep with your backhand.

One of the keys to developing a great backhand is to get the body and arm working together as a unit. Most players rely too much on the arm and forget that the body needs to lift to create topspin.

When you are standing close to the net hitting backhands you are forced to use the body more to get the ball over the net and this should help you improve your backhand. You can slowly work your way backward always trying to focus on using body and arms together for the shot!

Forehand

 

Pivot on back foot, rotate shoulder, hips….show flashlight (butt of racquet)                              

Forehand Drills

Forehand Drill #1: Reverse forehand for more topspin!

The pros hit with plenty of topspin and it is essential for everybody to learn to hit with enough topspin. A great tennis drill to improve your topspin forehand and get a better feel for brushing up the back of the ball is to hit what is called reverse forehands.

Rafael Nadal is famous for his reverse forehand with tremendous topspin. In this drill you hit forehands where you finish on the same side of your body. So if you are right-handed you finish with your arm still on your right side up high.

Hit at least 30 or 40 balls like this and then try your normal forehand. You will find that it is now easier to hit with more spin.

Remember that spin alone is not the answer to all problems. Spin without enough speed is actually not a very good shot and i do not recommend that you start hitting reverse forehands like Nadal all the time. Use this simply as a drill to improve your topspin!

Forehand Drill #2: Inside-Out Forehand

The pros hit a lot of forehand shots inside-out. They run around their backhand and hit the forehand inside-out to the opponent’s backhand (for a right-handed opponent).

This shot is very effective at any level and should be practised. In order to practise this shot have your partner play backhands cross-court, ideally not too far cross-court but rather to the middle, while you hit inside-out forehands to his backhand. Keep rallying like this until you are comfortable hitting the inside-out forehand!

(Did you know that inside-out is the basic swing pattern for any good forehand ? Check out my upcoming technique video series for more information!)

Forehand Drill #3: Forehands Only

A great way to groove your forehand is to hit forehands only. I like to mark off about two-thirds off the court so that you have to cover a realistic amount of court and then you rally with your partner (or even better two players at the baseline on the other side) hitting only forehands.

This way you practise all kinds of forehands that you could realistically hit in a match!

For more detailed discussion of the modern tennis forehand and step by step instruction on how to improve your forehand check out my upcoming instructional video series!

Tennis Groundstroke Drills


Tennis Groundstrokes Drill #1: 20 balls deep cross-court

Every Tennisplayer needs to be able to hit the ball reasonably hard cross-court and deep to be successful! One of the best drills for this is the 20-ball cross court deep drill!

With this drill a coach or partner feeds you balls alternating to your forehand and backhand. The goal is for you to hit 20 balls in a row cross-court past the service line without missing. Every time you miss you start again at 0!

If you are a beginner or don't have a partner you can also drop/toss the ball for yourself. A ball machine could be a great alternative as well. If you can consistently hit the ball cross-court deep you will beat a lot more players than usual!

Tennis Groundstrokes Drill #2: Baseline Game To Eleven

Baseline Games to eleven are extremely popular among tennis players. In this game the ball is fed by a coach or one player, the other player then hits the first ball cross-court and afterwards the point is played out. You can alternate feeding and also alternate feeding to forehand and backhand.

Many players play this game with the feed and the first ball down the middle; I prefer the feed and the first ball cross-court because I think it is more realistic. This game will lead to plenty of groundstroke rallies and therefore is great for improving your game from behind the baseline!

Tennis Groundstrokes Drill #3: Rallying with a higher net!

The majority of all tennis matches are won by the player that hits less unforced errors!That means that if you can hit the ball over more often than your opponent you will most likely win the match!

Coaches often say that the net is your biggest enemy on the tennis court and I definitely agree. Almost all players except for the pros miss too much in the net!

To work on missing in the net less I highly recommend getting something like a higher net! The simplest way to do this is to place a high pole on each end of the net and hang some kind of rope over it. This will give you a visual goal to hit over! Make sure you use something with a colour that is easily visible! Alternatively you can buy higher nets on many tennis internet sites!

With your higher net you can now rally over it; try to hit a certain number of balls without missing or even play points with the higher net! Doing this on a regular basis will most likely improve your Tennis very quickly!

Tennis Serve Tip #1: Imagine you are playing serve and volley

Have you ever wondered why most people serve better in doubles than in singles ? I hear this all the time from my students. They serve great in doubles and in singles they tend to miss a lot more first serves. Well, the reason for this is that in doubles you are usually serve and volleying. When you serve and volley you think about getting to the net so you try to get well into the court already with your serving motion.

One of the most important commonalities among great tennis servers is that their bodies move way up to the ball and that they move way into the court when serving. Take a look at Roger Federer, Andy Roddick or any other great server in slow-motion. You can easily find these super slow-motion videos on youtube these days. Simply type in Federer tennis serve slow motion for example. What you will see is that their entire body is moving up to the ball all the way through contact and that they are propelling themselves way into the court. Studies have shown that you have to be a lot taller than guys like Roddick and Federer to actually hit down on the ball when serving.

Now when you practice your serve or when you are playing singles you can simply play a mind game with yourself and imagine you are serve and volleying on your first serves. After you land you can simply retreat and stay at the baseline as usual. This should get you to hit more up to the ball and get you more into the court and therefore improve your serve.

Tennis Forehand Tip #1: Finish your swing with the knuckles pointing to your left ear to avoid a loose wrist

The role of the wrist in the tennis forehand stroke has been widely discussed and many players and coaches really misunderstand what is happening here. Fortunately, through high speed video analysis of the top players we can now be certain that the wrist stays laid-back throughout contact. In order to stabilize your forehand try the following: Have your practice partner stand next to you and feed you some very easy balls underhanded to your forehand. Try to focus on a stable laid-back wrist all the way to the follow-through. If your right hand is close to your left ear with the knuckles pointing to your left ear at the end of the follow-through, you have done a good job at keeping the wrist stable and your forehand should become more consistent as a result!

More great tennis tips coming soon!

Tennis Slice Tip #1: Keep the racket face relatively flat!

The problem for most people when they slice is that the racket face is too open. This forces you to swing down too much and the ball starts floating and does not go through the court. This kind of slice is not very effective and good players will attack it comfortably. So try to keep the racket face almost vertical to the ground and move through contact in a rather straight line instead of swinging down so much! (Your grip plays an important role here so check out the grips article/video in the technique section if you are unsure about the slice grip)

Movement Drills

 

Split step…drive to the ball

 

Side straddles across baseline

 

3 cones at baseline….in triangle

 

3 ball toss…hit ea

Tags: Backhand

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